NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Parents and Kids' Media Access

August 8, 2003

Recent survey data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveal widespread parental concern about the effect of media on children in America.

  • The majority of American parents believe that today's media contribute to children becoming too materialistic (90 percent), using more coarse and vulgar language (90 percent), engaging in sexual activity at younger ages (89 percent), experiencing a loss of innocence too early (88 percent), and behaving in violent and anti-social ways (85 percent).
  • Parents cite television as having the most negative impact on children (37 percent), with video games (19 percent) and music (17 percent) ranking close behind.
  • Some 42 percent of children live in homes where the TV set is on most of the time, even when no one is watching.
  • Among children 8 and older, 65 percent have a TV in their bedroom, 45 percent have a video game player there, and 36 percent have a VCR.
  • Only 13 percent of children report time limits, and only 7 percent report that their parents did not allow them to purchase a game because of its rating.
  • Most teens say that they do not have time limits or go online with their parents, and less than one-third believe that their parents have ever checked where they have gone online.

Roughly 8 in 10 of parents surveyed (78 percent) supported the creation of a single, universal ratings system that would apply to all media, rather than a mix of ratings for each media. The majority of parents would prefer that an independent group of parents, educators and child development experts oversee the ratings.

Source "Key Facts: Parents and Media," Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Summer 2003.


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